Assorted links

by on March 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Will Australia burn Alex at the stake?

2. The fox and the hedgehog, literally.

3. The Ricardian elephant at work, Indian bulldozer edition.

4. Disputes over robot grading.

5. Word lens video, and chimera teeth.

6. Where is Medicare cost inflation coming from?

Rgarciav March 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Here is to Mr. Cowen, who claims technological change is coming to a halt:

Device keeps liver “alive” outside body in medical first
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE92E0SI20130315

Andrew' March 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

As long as people keep misunderstanding his thesis, he will continue to be able to explain it.

Scotty Weeks March 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Fuckin’ oath. Item 1 is barely legible — and an example of the piss-poor education most Aussies seem to get when it comes to basic English composition. Shocking. I had to stop a couple paragraphs in so I didn’t even get the gist of the piece, but seriously, that’s on the blog for a bloody _newspaper_ site.

Faze March 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Oh, it was perfectly legible. What it wasn’t was intelligible.

Mike March 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

A CLASSIC example of Muphry’s Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muphry's_law

Scotty Weeks March 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Second sentence “He wants more people with better entry scores starting to study in education faculties and fewer graduates from them who struggle in the classroom.” And it only gets worse.

This is from someone who’s job is to write for a living. Listen, I’m no expert, and my prose is often full of funky grammar — but I make no claim to be a journalist.

anon March 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Is the image http://blogs.news.com.au/images/uploads/straw_man.jpg from the Australian version of Burning Man?

Ronald Brak March 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm

That is the Wickerman from the UK. Burning man is some sort of New World version of it, although I understand they don’t put a person inside the Burning Man version. Another difference is Burning Man occurs in the real word while Wickerman is from a movie.

Squarely Rooted March 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

What is “the Ricardian elephant?”

Owen March 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Spondulicks? Are Aussie columnists required to insert nonsense words like this in every article to remind the rest of the world that they’re a serious/different/real country?

dearieme March 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm

He means Jimmy O’Goblins and Pieces of Eight: that sort of thing.

Bob Knaus March 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm

In Atlanta there is a bar/restaraunt named “Spondivits” where all the Delta flight attendents hang out. Presume it’s the same origin. Maybe they take simoleons to settle your tab?

Alan Gunn March 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

# 6 is “Dog Bites Man” for sure. Are there really people who haven’t noticed this?

ThomasH March 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

RE #6

I have never heard of an increase in quantity (whether in this case it is the number of person treated or the number of treatments per person or both) refered to as “inflation.” Medicare inflation ought to refer to and index of prices a basket of procedures. But whatever it is called if expenditures on Medicare are growing as a share of GDP, one might still think that the deficit is a “health care problem,”

Steve March 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Re #6: I stopped reading when I saw the graph that partition cost growth into inflation and an aging population. Part of the cost growth is from “excess cost for excess enrollees” (the interaction of inflation and aging). It’s hard to believe he’s being nuanced and has a good grasp of the numbers if he doesn’t color that part in.

Also, his baseline scenario assumes “productivity updates and spending reductions” and the time horizon ends in 2035. But this is kind of like saying “it isn’t that big of a problem if you assume we have a solution” and “exponential growth isn’t that fast . . . at first.”

brad March 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Re: Medicare
The take away shouldn’t be that we need more revenue – whether from beneficiaries themselves, or the rest of us – but that we need to cut nominal spending rather than just holding down growth.

For all the talk of Medicare’s efficiency versus the private sector, it is still way more expensive per capita (even on an age adjusted basis) than other OECD nations.

Total German (government and private) health care spending is $80B than Medicare (which only covers about half the costs of those it covers), and it covers all 81+ million people.

Robert March 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Re: “How India deals with squatters: Elephants used bulldoze illegal jungle shacks”

I’m surprised wacky liberals aren’t calling for an Elephant boycott! (as they do for Caterpillar.) I

bob March 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Yup, pile up the faggots under that one, you crazy Australian spondulicks.

DK March 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

#1 Too many teachers, too much research? So, how come Alex is not resigning from his post teacher-researcher position?

BC March 16, 2013 at 6:37 am

As far as I know, Alex is not a teacher-researcher in Australia. His point was that, since other countries are already spending money on research and Australians can benefit from that research essentially for free, there is no reason that Australia needs to spend that much itself on research. The fact that Alex, an American teacher-researcher, was in Australia sharing his ideas illustrates his own point.

The argument, or at least the valid argument, for government-financed research is that research has positive externalities. Sharing ideas with other researchers can enable collaboration and better research to result than if researchers keep their results secret. However, that same sharing of ideas allows people to benefit from those ideas that haven’t paid for the research, hence the externality. Thus, without government financing of research, it is possible that we would have too little research: everyone might just wait for someone else to pay for research.

The common argument along the lines, “Other countries are spending $X for research, so we need to spend $Y to remain competitive,” does actually get the externality argument backwards. The more others are spending on research, the less one needs to spend oneself. Alex’s point is a good but subtle one, one that I hadn’t personally thought about until today.

As an aside, the same reasoning around externalities would also seem to apply to defense spending. A strong defense inevitably benefits everyone in a country along with that country’s allies, regardless of who paid for it. Thus, for example, the more the US spends on defense, the less our European allies have to, a concept that they seem to grasp very well. The converse is also true: the less our allies spend on defense, the more that we need to in the US. That’s a point that I think has been lost at various times, including on this blog, when posters have compared US military spending to the next N countries combined, etc. It’s kind of like saying, “53% of Americans spend $X on defense; the other 47% spend close to nothing. Those 47% seem pretty secure. Thus, the 53% can probably substantially cut their defense spending without any adverse consequences to security.”

TMC March 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

Excellent comment

dearieme March 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

“Alex’s point is a good but subtle one, one that I” had personally thought about and had tried to explain over the years to various British scientists. They, how shall I say, refused to engage rationally with the point.

DK March 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I was actually thinking along the lines that since there are lots of Australian teacher-researchers, perhaps Alex, being a good libertarian and patriot, will want to reduce USA and Virginia governments expenditures related to his obviously redundant position. Let the Australian suckers take the burden of research and let us take its fruits for free. You know, his argument work both ways…

BC March 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Fair point, although it might have been stronger if you were making it on an Australian researcher’s blog instead of on Alex’s.

Donald Pretari March 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Don’t be silly. They’re not going to burn Alex at the stake. That’s obviously a Wicker Man.

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